When I was a younger person, I thought I would never get old, and didn’t want to. What fun could that be? Now that I have almost six decades under my belt, I realize just how dumb I was back then. This is absolutely the best time of my life. When I look at the lives my children are living, with all the drama and stress of raising kids, making ends meet and relationships work, and such, I wouldn’t want to go back and live all of that over again for anything in the world. Would you?
At age 58, I have a fantastic marriage, a comfortable lifestyle, good friends who share the same interests I do, and I have learned what really matters in life, and what doesn’t matter at all. Yes, life is good.
However, there is a downside that we all experience as we age, and that is that the other people in our lives are also aging, and we start losing people that we love.
I am the youngest of eight children, and the only one still living, My parents have been gone a long time. And now my friends are starting to die off.
Three years ago we lost Dave Baleria, a man I considered a brother. A while later, Gaylord Maxwell, my boss and mentor at Life on Wheels left us. Last year it was Dan Connell, one of my best friends from my schooldays.
We first met Tim and his lovely wife Ann at an Escapees Escapade rally in Lancaster, California. It was the first RV rally for all of us, and in spite of heavy rains, and the fairgrounds turning into a mud hole, we had a great time. Tim and Ann were probably some of the first RV friends we ever met, and we hit it off immediately. Over the years, we met up at RV events and campgrounds from border to border, and coast to coast. Some of those meetings were planned, and other times were just kismet.
Tim was a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, and proud of his service to his country. He was a good humored fellow who loved to laugh, but also a fiery little Irishman whom you didn’t want to push. I remember once, when we ran into a jerk at a campground who was giving Terry and I a hassle, Tim was like a pit bull going on the attack. If you were Tim’s friend, he had your back, no matter what.
He was also the kind of friend that would tell you what you needed to hear, even if it wasn’t necessarily what you wanted to hear. You always knew where you stood with Tim, and I respected that.
My friend suffered from a disease that slowly robbed him of his lungs, and that he knew would eventually take his life. But I never once heard him feeling sorry for himself, or asking “why me?”. He loved life, and considered every day a gift from God.
We spent several days visiting with Tim and Ann in November, and while Miss Terry took Ann out a couple of days to give her some respite, I sat with Tim. He knew that the end was coming, and that it wasn’t going to be long. He told me that he wasn’t afraid of dying, and that his only concerns were that he could get all of the details of their finances in order so that Ann would be secure after he was gone. Even facing death, Tim’s focus was on the people that he loved.
One afternoon, I took Tim for what was probably his last walk around the block. It was a slow process, we’d move a few steps, then he’d have to stop to lean on me and catch his breath. Tim apologized for having to stop so frequently, but I didn’t mind, I was just enjoying my time with my buddy. He was weak, but not too weak to enjoy the blue sky overhead, and the birds singing in the trees. Tim looked at me and said “God sure made a beautiful world for us, didn’t he?”
Yes he did, Tim, and you were part of what made it such a beautiful place for all of us. Rest in peace, my brother.
Thought For The Day – Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. – Ralph Waldo Emerson